Best Books Read In 2017 So Far




Best Books You’ve Read In 2017 So Far



I am terrible at this kind of post! How to pick??? Especially since I’ve read 118 books so far.

I decided to just run through my list of books and see what stands out. I’ll try to break it up into some categories…let’s see!


Gabi, A Girl in Pieces – Isabel Quintero
I’m not much of a YA reader but loved this spunky determined Gabi

The Woman Next Door – Yewande Omotoso
Great story of a reluctant friendship between two women in South Africa

Funny Boy – Shyam Selvadurai

So glad I read this coming-of-age story set in Sri Lanka.

Comics/graphic novels

El Deafo – Cece Bell
Such a great story for all ages about what it’s like growing up deaf

Captain Marvel – Kelly Sue DeConnick
I love DeConnick’s Captain Marvel!

Spider Woman – Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez
Coincidentally, Spider Woman is Captain Marvel’s best friend!


Lab Girl – Hope Jahren
Wasn’t sure at first about this writer narrating her own book but I loved the passion she put into it.


The Dollmaker – Harriette Simpson Arnow
This classic really surprised me. Loved it.


In the country we love: My family divided – Diane Guerrero, Michelle Buford
For me it was really interesting – and heartbreaking – to read of how Guerrero survived after her parents were deported.


Series I’ve been meaning to start


Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning To Start But Haven’t

I started with a few in mind then looked up some lists on Goodreads for more. And there are just so very many series out there that I want to read! Let me know which you’ve read and enjoyed.

Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas 

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay (I’ve loved some of his standalones!)

The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix (haven’t read anything by Nix before!)

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb (haven’t read anything by Hobb before!)

Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs (another new-to-me author)

The Others by Anne Bishop (new-to-me author)

Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong

Cainsville by Kelley Armstrong (I love her Women of the Otherworld series but haven’t read her other books) 

Top classics covers done right


Cover Theme Freebie: literally anyyyything about covers

I’m not very good with freebies to be honest! Anyway, after some consideration, I’ve decided to go with “classics done right” – that is, beautiful redesigned covers for classic lit. In other words, book covers I have been drooling over….

F Scott Fitzgerald collection by Penguin Classics

Virago Modern Classics Designer Collection

Penguin Clothbound Classics

Vintage Classics Woolf series

Puffin in Bloom – I own three out of four (except for the Anne of Green Gables – I’ve got the version below)


Puffin Classics

Penguin Drop Caps

Which ones have you been eyeing? 

This Will Make Me NOT Want To Read A Book


Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book

  • “The next Gone Girl” or wait, something worse would be a book described as “the next Fifty Shades
  • Gendered book covers (especially see the two different covers of the same Alice Munro book above). I mean, I would still read the book, but ugh I do not need the “feminine” covers
  • Stereotyped POCs – like the nerdy Asian, the blonde cheerleader, the rat villain (see Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird series – actually wait, don’t go see that series, it’s just bad, take my word for it)
  • Written by James Patterson
  • Too experimental (eg Jesse Ball’s Silence Once Begun)

  • Covers that are too “Oriental”. I do kind of like chinoiserie but when books that are written by or about Asians/Asia are given the ‘Oriental’ treatment, it really puts me off. This also includes the use of fans on covers, dragons, and cheongsams (see above)

Instead, please see some simple yet effective covers done by East Asians themselves. 

Also here is a fascinating collage  of covers of books that feature South Asian or African settings)


What turns you off books?

This Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book


Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

  • Works in translation – it always makes me glad to see more works in translation!
  • Own voices – I recently had a prompt on the photo challenge I run on Litsy, “set in Southeast Asia” and despaired a little at the very few books that showed up on Litsy that were by Southeast Asians (true, I did not say “written by Southeast Asians” as I thought that would have been too difficult for many participants). But my point is that if I were to read a book set in, say Thailand, I would prefer it to be by a Thai writer.
  • An unusual setting – countries I’ve never been to like Turkey, Russia, Iceland, Trinidad. Or something set in space or other worlds

  • Comics/graphic novels – the truth is, put something in comic form and I would happily give it a try. Even if it’s by a writer I’ve had no success with previously. Of course I recently had the reverse happen – a writer I’ve adored whose comic book debut was sadly very clichéd. 
  • A great cover – well, who doesn’t judge a book by its cover? Sadly that also works the other way – if it’s a terrible cover, I would tend to shun it, unless I read otherwise about it!
  • Retellings of myths and fairytales

  • International crime series – I am especially intrigued by Japanese crime fiction. Just don’t call Higashino the “Japanese Stieg Larsson”. Gaaaahhh….
  • Recommended by my favourite bloggers and Littens!


What are some things that would make you want to read a book?

Fantastic short reads – the diverse edition



 Read In One Sitting Theme: ten of the shortest books I’ve read, top ten books I read in one sitting, ten books to read when you are short on time, top ten books that will make you read the whole day away, etc.

I am tempted to just put comics. Because comics are quick reads and for the most part, entertaining! I’ve instead put together a list of short books/novellas that are easily read in one sitting. I’ve deliberately not included short story collections as I tend to read short story collections over a number of days.

Also, I am defining ‘short books’ as those that are under or just slightly above 200 pages.

Quesadillas – Juan Pablo Villas (158 pages)

It feels wrong to say that this story about a poor family living in a town where there are more cows than people is funny. But it is. It’s weird and clever and absurd.

When the Emperor was Divine – Julie Otsuka (144 pages)

A moving story about a family sent to the Japanese-American internment camps. Heartbreaking.

Binti – Nnedi Okorafor (96 pages)

Binti: Home – Nnedi Okorafor (176 pages)

I already enjoyed reading speculative fiction before reading these books, but I do think it would be a good starting point for anyone looking to dip their toe into this genre, as Okorafor is a brilliant writer and creates wonderful worlds with strong characters that may be a bit more accessible. Highly recommended!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian  – Sherman Alexie (230 pages)

230 pages may be pushing it a bit, you think. But this book does include some illustrations so that takes up some space. Also it is written in the voice of a teenaged boy (i.e. easy to read). However, a lot of it is very sad.

We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (49 pages)

It packs a mighty punch in just a few pages. A must-read for everyone.

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow –  Faïza Guène, Sarah Adams (Translator) (179 pages)

Published in 1999, this story features a teenager of Moroccan descent living in France. Her father has returned to Morocco, her mother is illiterate and working at a rat-trap of a motel. And Doria is struggling with her studies and all the usual teenager problems.

The Housekeeper and the Professor – Yōko Ogawa, Stephen Snyder (Translator) (180 pages)

It’s been a while since I’ve read this but I remember it as being a very brilliant and moving story about a young woman who looks after a math professor with a very short-term memory.

The Diving Pool: Three Novellas – Yōko Ogawa, Stephen Snyder (Translation)

What can I say, Ogawa writes so beautifully I have to include another of her books!

Clear Light of Day – Anita Desai (183 pages)

Desai writes such gorgeous (and sad) stories about families, this time about a family that has grown apart.

The Lake – Banana Yoshimoto (188 pages)

“But sometimes we encounter people like Nakajima who compel us to remember it all. He doesn’t have to say or do anything in particular; just looking at him, you find yourself face-to-face with the enormousness of the world as a whole. Because he doesn’t try to live in just a part of it. Because he doesn’t avert his gaze.

He makes me feel like I’ve suddenly awakened, and I want to go on watching him forever. That, I think, is what it is. I’m awed by his terrible depths.”

Sad and beautiful. Also, Yoshimoto has written a few other books that are under or around 200 pages like N.P. and Lizard.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid (184 pages)

I recently reread this book and it once again blew me away. To write a story that is pretty much like reading one side of a conversation was unusual and may not work for everyone but I really liked it. The narrator is a Pakistani man speaking to an unidentified American stranger.

The Vegetarian – Han Kang, Deborah Smith (translator) (192 pages)

I know lots of people really liked this book but perhaps because of all the hype I felt a bit disappointed by it. Instead, I preferred her other book, released in English this year, Human Acts, which comes in at 218 pages.

Some diverse books I have yet to read that seem like short reads

(Synopses from Goodreads)

Confession of the Lioness – Mia Couto, David Brookshaw (Translation) (192 pages)

Told through two haunting, interwoven diaries, Mia Couto’s Confession of the Lioness reveals the mysterious world of Kulumani, an isolated village in Mozambique whose traditions and beliefs are threatened when ghostlike lionesses begin hunting the women who live there.

Some Prefer Nettles – Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, Edward G. Seidensticker (Translator) (202 pages)

Esi decides to divorce after enduring yet another morning’s marital rape. Though her friends and family remain baffled by her decision (after all, he doesn’t beat her!), Esi holds fast. When she falls in love with a married man—wealthy, and able to arrange a polygamous marriage—the modern woman finds herself trapped in a new set of problems. Witty and compelling, Aidoo’s novel, “inaugurates a new realist style in African literature.”

Changes: A Love Story – Ama Ata Aidoo (208 pages)

Esi decides to divorce after enduring yet another morning’s marital rape. Though her friends and family remain baffled by her decision (after all, he doesn’t beat her!), Esi holds fast. When she falls in love with a married man—wealthy, and able to arrange a polygamous marriage—the modern woman finds herself trapped in a new set of problems. Witty and compelling, Aidoo’s novel, “inaugurates a new realist style in African literature.

Season of Migration to the North – Tayeb Salih, Denys Johnson-Davies (Translator) (176 pages)

After years of study in Europe, the young narrator of Season of Migration to the North returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan. It is the 1960s, and he is eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country. Back home, he discovers a stranger among the familiar faces of childhood—the enigmatic Mustafa Sa’eed. Mustafa takes the young man into his confidence, telling him the story of his own years in London, of his brilliant career as an economist, and of the series of fraught and deadly relationships with European women that led to a terrible public reckoning and his return to his native land.

Please leave a comment if you have any recommendations for short reads by POC authors!

Books I loved more than I expected to


Ten Books I Loved More Than I Thought I Would 

The Dollmaker – Harriette Simpson Arnow

This American classic is a tough read. Almost all the dialogue is written in a Kentucky dialect, which takes some getting used to. And it is bleak. So bleak and poor and desperate. But I loved the main character Gertie, she’s a hard worker, strong-willed and capable.


Lab Girl – Hope Jahren

I listened to this as an audiobook – very hesitantly. So far I’ve had success with celebrity-narrated audiobooks, mostly comedians like Aziz Ansari and Amy Pohler. But I wasn’t sure about this one, read by its author who’s a scientist. I started listening, just hoping she wouldn’t sound, well, boring. And instead I was startled by the way she poured so much emotion into her narration. All her passion for her work, for the people she loved, was put into the reading. And I was enthralled.


Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d – Alan Bradley

It may seem weird to put this 8th book in a series here. But I really didn’t like book 7, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, which took Flavia out of England and into a Canadian boarding school. In book 8, Flavia is back at Buckshaw and things just seem more apt, except of course for the fact that her father is in hospital.


Gabi, A Girl in Pieces – Isabel Quintero (my review)

I’ve had mixed success with YA so am always a bit hesitant when picking up a YA book. But this one, this one I just adored. I loved Gabi. What a wonderful feisty character.

H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald

Another nonfiction read that took me by surprise.